A week after a great outing at the Region 11 cross country meet, the Bear River High teams lined it up at the 4A State Championships in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 27 with strong showings on both the boys’ and girls’ sides.
The new 4A classification basically pitted the south (St. George area) against the north (Cache Valley area).
“The teams down south are so tough,” Coach Tyrell Neal said. “We are grateful for some good results. We hope moving forward that we can build a better foundation for the athletes so they can have a little more success at the state level.”
Looking for some redemption after a disappointing sixth-place finish at region was girls’ senior leader Liz Phillips, who rebounded to take fifth at state with a time of 19:15, which was nearly a new school record on the full-5K course (3.1 miles).
“We didn’t feel we had Liz prepared at region,” Neal said, “but the coaches rallied around Liz and went back to the drawing board and mapped out a plan to get her ready. She really responded and it was great to see her confidence return.”
Phillips was in fourth place most of the race before being caught near the finish line.
“Liz was in the zone and looked great the whole way,” Head Coach Dan Line said. “She might have taken down the school record if it was 3 miles, but she is going to have to settle for second best time in school history. What is great though is she is on the radar of local college coaches now after that performance.”
Phillips’ historic finish was followed by the finish of newcomer and promising freshman Gracie Meeds (18th, 19:52.4), whose time was good enough for sixth best among all Region 11 runners.
“She will be a leader for us in the future,” Neal said.
Meeds was the No. 2 freshman in the race and will be named third team all-state.
Next up was senior standout Shylee Kofoed, who battled an injury all season long.
“A month ago Shylee was barely in our top ten as she recovered from an injury, and now she is our number three,” Neal said. “She has no quit and has been a joy to work with these last four years.”
Just like Phillips and Meeds, Kofoed moved up in the region rankings. After placing 13th at Region last week, Kofoed moved up to 9th among region runners at state.
The rest of the team had solid efforts as sophomores Bethany Richard (40th, 20:46), Rebecca Curtis (45th, 20:57), Mattie Winward (48th, 21:05) and senior Katie Wynn (57th, 21:29) helped the Lady Bears to tie their best team placing at state ever (fifth) and record the lowest score in team history with 133 points.
“The girls have had a great season. We are super pleased with those senior girls and are excited about our young team and the promising future they have ahead of them,” Neal said.
Pine View (60) repeated as state champions and was followed by Desert Hills (89), Cedar City (89), Ridgeline (110) and then the Bears (133). Thirteen teams total competed at state this year.
Coming off their seventh region title in school history, the boys were hoping to place high at state but ended up settling for eighth.
Top senior runner Ammon Hunter was not to be denied. The talented runner stayed in with the top pack to take 19th place (16:38).
“Ammon proved he belongs with the leaders,” Line said. “If he prepares himself like the other runners have, he will do great things.”
Two talented sophomores took the next team spots for Bear River as Braxton Craven (35th, 17:11) and David Bourgeous (39th, 17:19) had solid outings.
“I really wish we knew how fast they ran compared to the old course,” Line said. “If you convert their times, they both broke 16:50 on a three-mile course. That’s pretty stellar for two sophomores. Like Gracie, they will be leaders on the boys side next year.”
Seniors Phillip Gallegos (52nd, 17:31), Matt Spotten (55th, 17:36), Kenneth Pingle (61st, 17:43) and Kael Kowallis (82nd, 18:27) brought home their last race in red for Bear River High.
“We got the region trophy engraved the day before the meet and brought it with us,” Line said. “It was a good reminder that we had a great year and not to be disappointed by a down day.”
The Bears were passed in the team standings by region rival Green Canyon, which finished sixth in the final team scoring. The top five teams were all south region schools. Cedar (35) surprised defending champions Desert Hills (53) for the title and were followed by Snow Canyon (96), Pine View (166) and Crimson Cliffs (173).
Boys coach Dan Line, girls coach Tyrell Neal and assistant coach Ben Wynn would like to thank all the parents, school staff and area businesses for their support this season and give one final shout out to the great athletes on the Bear River cross country team.